Middleburg’s Emmanuel Episcopal Church has received a $49,756 grant from the Lilly Endowment’s National Clergy Renewal Program for 2016.  Emmanuel’s winning proposal will enable its minister, the Reverend Anne Hallmark, to conduct a three-month research sabbatical beginning in August of 2016.

Her research will focus on 16 innovative programs in the US and northern Europe which currently offer more active lifestyles for older community residents than what is generally available elsewhere. Following three months of interviews and travel, she will report back to Emmanuel on best practices worth replicating in Middleburg where many residents have expressed the wish ‘’to retire in place,” if at all possible.

“The best programs for us,” says Rev. Hallmark, “…are probably going to be those where older members take an active role in their neighbor’s well being as well as their own. Anyone at any age can become more alive by serving others.”

Rev. Hallmark christened the proposal, developed jointly with a congregational task force, the Abraham and Sarah Initiative, “to remind us that, as it says in Gen 18:11, God makes it possible for the ‘old and advanced in years’ to play awesome roles in expanding the Kingdom.”

Emmanuel is one of 144 congregations across the country winning an award in this year’s competitive grant program, funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc. and administered by Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.

The Endowment’s grants allow Christian congregations to support their pastors with the gift of extended time away from their ministerial duties to engage in reflection and renewal. The program is particularly valuable for smaller parishes with limited budgets. Congregational needs during the minister’s renewal experience are considered, with up to $15,000 of the grant allocated to support interim pastoral leadership during the pastor’s retreat, as well as renewal activities within the congregation.